Be a Tiger

We’ve just left Toronto via Air Canada for Halifax; Pad to — as he puts it — “finally start college” and me to bear witness and execute a pale imitation of the attention to detail his mother would provide in the same circumstances.

He will have to suffer through with me.

Chris is pretty much ready to roll and excited about the weeks ahead at University of Guelph Humber. Orientation Weekend social event tickets are in hand.

I hope the enthusiasm holds up as the workload increases and the newness fades to routine.

For Pad, I think there is a genuine sense of “let’s get on with it.” Typically college hockey players finish out all of their junior eligibility before becoming freshman athletes, if they get the chance at all. So he’s not a typical 17-year-old freshman like his brother.

Fewer than six per cent of the young men who play rep hockey get to advance through junior and then compete at the university level, so that provides some sobering reality to both the magnitude of the challenge at the outset and the thrill of the accomplishment at the other end, which is Dalhousie University.

Continue reading

Drunken morons aboard; scramble the jets

My dad is a pretty smart guy and is razor sharp. Not razor sharp for a 90 year old; he’s razor sharp, period.

He doesn’t always say a lot but he doesn’t miss a lot either. For a guy who watches every inning of Blue Jays baseball he can get access to, you would think time would have ground him down. But not so.

Last night he posed a question to me in the manner he does when, I’m pretty sure, he knows there is no answer. He wanted to talk about the case of the Sunwing charter flight that was turned back to Toronto while en route to Cuba after two young female passengers became drunk, unruly, lit a cigarette, starting fighting with one another and comported themselves in a manner my dad, generally, would file under the category of “Assholes.”

His question wasn’t one of the many I might have had: why did cabin crew allow them to open their duty free liquor, and consume most of it? OR why were two women in the on-board lavatory at the same time; or, why did they want to go to Cuba in August?

No, dad’s question was much, much better. Continue reading

More exciting than watching paint dry?

I had a very quiet day and I’m posting here late, which means most of you won’t see this until the morning by which time I may well have posted again.

On the one hand I want to keep the streak of Monday to Friday posting alive. On the other hand I didn’t break anything today (yet) and I wanted to note that landmark occasion and also finally, the Leafs did something so ironic I couldn’t let I pass.

On the home front destruction watch, the air conditioning works great and it is especially efficient when the overnight low is 12 degrees and we can open all the windows and freeze. Money well spent, no doubt.

The shower problem will be corrected tomorrow early, or so I’m told, with our friendly plumber having located the mysterious parts required to make the water temperature produce a setting of other than cold and really cold.

There’s no shortage of hot water — it’s just not coming out of the shower in our ensuite. So that will be a highlight tomorrow.

And I have my trusty laptop back now that the charging port has been replaced and repaired. So, almost three for three.

But the real highlight of this day was time spent with Chris running errands. Continue reading

Misery love company. I insist upon it

Tall people inherently get some pluses and minuses in life. Overall, I think being tall is an advantage in our society and I have never really felt too disadvantaged because of my height.

Except on an airplane.

Being a tall person on an airplane, unless you are sitting in business class which I pretty much never am, is a pain. Literally. You have to physically cram yourself into a seat that’s too small; the seat itself is crammed into a space that is too small; and inevitably I end up sitting next to people who are as large as me, or larger.

The uber pain in the traveling ass comes when the person in front of you decides that they need to recline their seat and crush one or both of your knee caps, jam your femurs up into your abdomen, and make it virtually impossible for you to use the on board tv or work on even a small laptop or tablet.

This It was with a knowing, wry smile that I read about a flight this week from Newark, NJ, to Denver being diverted to Chicago because of an in-flight dispute between woman who wanted to recline her seat and a man behind her who applied a nifty, and illegal, device to prevent her from being able to do so. Continue reading

You have never looked hotter

The timing is perfect, really.

I was doing something out in the garage last night while Laura was on the phone. If you have air conditioning then you know the sensation I’m about to describe — that sharp coolness, the dry air, the freshness that snaps at you when you enter the house from a hot garage.

Not that it was all that hot yesterday — it wasn’t. And normally on a day like that we wouldn’t even turn the air on, except it was exceptionally humid so even running the air conditioning at 24 degrees makes it feel a lot cooler when the moisture is sucked out of the room.

So, I walk in the mud room and I’m immediately struck by the fact that the sharp, cool, dry, fresh sensation is not there.

As Scooby Doo would say, Ro-oh. Continue reading

Let them sleep? Sure. Unplug them, too

Well, I think as parents we can safely file this one under “Duh!”

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that kids aren’t getting enough sleep and schools shouldn’t be open for classes before 830a or later, to make sure kids get the optimum amount of proper rest.

Yeah, well. Interesting position, doc.

First, I agree. If you’re child has to catch a bus at 630a to get to school, that’s just stupid. Having grown up in the middle of nowhere where busing to school was a necessary evil, I appreciate why the bus comes so early. I just don’t think it makes sense for kids.

The doctors say that between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep per night would be about right and starting classes before 830a pretty well guarantees that’s impossible. Perhaps.

But I can tell you for sure what else makes that impossible: PS3. X-Box. HBO. Sportscenter. The Internet. Continue reading

Don’t call, don’t text. I can’t hear you

I didn’t really expect to post anything today, but then again I didn’t really expect to lose my phone either. So, why not?

Day 1 of a two-week break started off okay — Pad out the door to work, me watering some plants out back and enjoying the quiet morning.

Since I hadn’t mounted up for two days I had mentally prepped to push myself and my bike a little outside of the comfort zone today — the goal was to make it all the way to Spencer Smith Park in the shadow of the Burlington Skyway, and back. Return trip likely close to 40 km in all, much of it on the streets. For the benefit of those catching up, I’m still trying to find a comfort level cycling among cars and trucks.

It was fairly uneventful — there were lots of other folks out on bikes enjoying the day, the traffic wasn’t bad and everyone was being respectful of the cyclists, which was a good thing.

I checked my phone a couple times at traffic lights as I am mopping up a couple things at work I needed to keep an eye on. Somewhere around Bronte Harbour — a little before? a little after? — I noticed there was a text from Laura but rather than read it I decided I would try to put a few more kilometres behind me first.

Which I did, pulling off the road a while later into a lovely lakeside park in Burlington where I envisioned stretching out for a few minutes at the lake’s shore, enjoying the view and the air and just . . . relaxing. Continue reading

His work here is done

I guess his work here is done. And what a record of exhaustive achievement it is.

After days and days of denying he was leaving Toronto, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment boss Tim Leiweke announced Thursday he is leaving Toronto. By next June. Maybe sooner if the gang can find someone new to make the bank deposits.

He celebrated his first year on the job in April, the same month the jewel in the MLSE crown – your Toronto Maple Leafs!! – missed the playoffs, stalling their record of consecutive playoff appearances at one in a row.

He was here to preside over the Raptor Spring – another one-in-a-row string of playoff appearances – in which the NBA squad (like the Leafs the previous year) got the city in a tizzy by winning three (3) playoff games before being eliminated. In the first round.

It really doesn’t take much to get sports fans wound up in this city but hey, we enjoy a parade of horn-blaring Cameros from the suburbs as much as the next winless city.

And then, of course, he went all-in on soccer, signing Jermaine Defoe and Michael Bradley, which, you know, was a bloody big deal. $100-million in new players later and the Reds are . . . marginally in third place in the MLS eastern conference.

So, standing with arms folded astride such a mountain of professional sport achievement, it is completely understandable why seeking out new challenges seems the only salve for his aching need for athletic dominance. Continue reading

“I love you forever . . . You’re all my boys”

Coaching kids and teaching fundamentals of a sport to kids are undertakings with soaring rewards and occasional frustrations that make you rethink your purpose in life.

I’ve been reminded of this over the last few weeks as Pad has worked at a local hockey camp as a lead instructor for day-long camps for kids, mostly in the eight to 11-year range.

Just prior to starting this job – which he committed to last winter – he spent several weeks working on a landscaping crew. Not cutting grass or weeding gardens, but high-end stuff – reshaping backyards with concrete and paving stones and planting trees and building outdoor kitchens. And ripping down old stuff like decks. (That was his favourite part.)

I ask him every night when he gets home – and it’s usually after 815p by the time he’s finished work and then goes to the gym or rink and does his own workout after work – how his day was. Often, there’s a weary frustration that comes from being a 20 year old trying to get through to nine year olds.

I would ask, which job did you like more – ripping down decks in 30 degree heat, or trying to get a kid to do a drill when the kid doesn’t want to.

He just smiles wryly. “It`s a different kind of tired.” Continue reading

Not this summer

I have to confess I feel a little like an old fire station horse this week – the bell is ringing, there’s commotion and busyness and I’m locked in the barn while everyone else runs toward the excitement. And I’m sure my older son is experiencing some of that, too.

Junior hockey training camps opened across Ontario, if not most of Canada, this week and this will be the first August since 2009 that it just doesn’t matter in our house.

As a first-year midget player in 2009, Pad attended his first junior A training camp exclusively for the purpose of being offered a roster spot on a GTHL AAA midget team since he was fed up with the process in MOHA. He was offered a spot but it took several weeks for MOHA to finally grant him a release.

The next fall in his second year of midget eligibility he made a junior A team and was also invited to attend the OHL’s London Knights training camp. And from there he was off and running.

Now he’s an old man, at least by junior hockey standards. We were standing in the kitchen last night talking about all the camps opening this week for teams he used to play for and it’s bit of melancholy time for him, I think. Continue reading


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